21 October 2013
Rene Mayinga from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is on strike. He claims his employer, Street Parking Solution (SPS), which won a tender in July 2008 from the City of Cape Town to collect parking fees in the CBD, has not been paying him since 2009.
Mayinga made several allegations to GroundUp about the way SPS’s owner, Mohammed Zunade Loghdey, treats foreign workers. This includes pitting foreigners and South Africans against each other.
Mayinga says work conditions are difficult under SPS. He accused the company of not giving workers breaks or lunch-time, no days off and no sick leave in 2008 when they got the contract. If workers did not turn up for work because they were ill, pay was deducted from their salaries. Mayinga alleged that women were not paid for maternity leave. Things then got worse in 2009 when the employer totally stopped paying them. “The managers told us that the boss said foreigners should not complain at all because it is difficult for them to find jobs. They also said they have done us a favour because it is unlawful to use an asylum document to seek employment.”
Mayinga came to South Africa in 2006. He is 38 years old, married and has one child. He stays in Woodstock. His rent is R2,400 per month, electricity R300, and transport R350. He says he continues to do the work because he relies on tips from motorists to get by.
Strikers showed GroundUp a payslip belonging to one of the striking parking attendants. They claimed it shows that the employer deducted R7 daily for a uniform and that tips are deducted as well.
The attendants further said they were told their daily target was to be raised, and they were ordered to sign an agreement. They refused. They say they were then chased away. The strikers say all they want is their money back-dated to 2009. Some said they do not want to work for Loghdey anymore.
Some of the allegations made to GroundUp were confusing. It is not clear, for example, if all or only some of the employees have not been paid since 2009, and if those who say they were not paid, were not paid at all or only occasionally.
Loghdey could not be reached for comment.
The City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Transport, Councillor Brett Herron, stated in an email response that SPS has a service level agreement with the City to manage parking in the Central Business District. He confirmed that workers at the company have been on a “legal strike from Monday 14 October 2013.”
Herron said that the City cannot intervene in an internal labour dispute. Previously, they requested that the Department of Labour investigate the employment conditions of SPS, and were advised that the employment conditions were within the ambit of the Labour Relations Act. The matter has been referred to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, a process that allows SPS time to resolve the dispute amicably with its employees.
SPS’s contract with the City ends in June 2014. A fixed amount of R680,000 per month is paid to the City.